Prelude to Mlei-ngyi festival

Kumui Nring
Chairman Jalukie Pumling Nko
The Jalukie Pumling Nko (JPN) brings greetings and announce the advent of Mlei-ngyi festival, which is one of the most important festivals of the Jalukie people, usually celebrated during the month “Mdui” (March 9 onwards), marks the advent of a new farming season and a time to invoke God’s blessings for a productive farming year. The festival is a weeklong event involving a sequential day-by-day activities like traditional fire-making, merry-making and traditional games and sports.

The village high priest/harbinger conveying all good wishes to his community and proclaims the arrival of festive season to enable for preparation of self, food, drinks and dresses etc. All preparatory agricultural activities such as jungle clearing for current jhum field and millet harvesting cultivated in fallow jhum areas are completed well ahead of the commencement of the event.
On the onset of the festival all men folks take bath early in the morning from the ceremonious spring-well signifying self cleansing and purification. Ahead of the festival involves traditional seed treatment so that seeds sown after the festival are vigorous and healthy. Preparation of local rice brew for consumption during the entire festivity period is done in advance before the beginning of the festival. 
The Traditional fire making marks the commencement of Mlei-ngyi festival and is usually performed by the clan headman (kizeu-pei) of each dormitory, by using strands of bamboo (mlei-ria) and bamboo fine fibres and keep the flame burning until culmination of the festival. During the entire festive period, the clan headman will abstain from having any indulgence with spouse.

The slaughter of animals meant for food during the festival is done by person having pure lineage trace amongst the villagers. The occasion witnesses engaged couples being invited to their respective in-laws for dinner and blessing and this dinner invitation by village folks usually continues during the entire festive period. 

All male members usually with their cup of beer and meat preparations from home, while entering their dormitory typically make a howl as “Aoo…yieee… ketyei-kesak ngyi, kehing-kelia ngyi… aki, mlia pungla”…which means “festival of food and drinks, festival of prosperity and longevity”… 

Sequentially, early in the morning the matured male members from the two major clan viz. Heu and Hau, forays into the jungle to make wooden totem (Herie) for each clan. The plank is then brought to the village with each clan carrying their respective wooden totem and placed on a clean predestined location. Then all male members in traditional attires gather to howl around the totem thence proceed to play ground for traditional games and sports like hedau (kicking the plank), heram (high jump), tsugi (shot put), hesim (long leap), hejo (long jump), hepo (wrestling) etc… This event usually witness wide participation and stiff competition from capable youngsters and the event marks the best athletes of the village for

the year. The sporting event culminates with a traditional howl (nro) by male members congregated around the field (hejo).
Significantly, the next day the families shared festival food package (Hengyidom) to sisters’ marriage outside the village. The evening hours are occupied with male members visiting female dormitories and calling them out by name and having verbal exchanges. 
Consecutively, the preceding day the male members of different clan collect firewood and pile up in a selected place for firewood filching in the evening by the women folk. At the fall of dusk female dormitory members, usually come singing soulful ballets visits male dormitories and perform traditional events like finger identification (Hebalia), tug-of-war (heriang-teu) and filching firewood (tsingpo-nsa).

On the final day the clan headman douses the Mlei-mi (festival fire). Members of the female dormitories cook sticky rice (Tetim) and share it with male dormitories as well as each female member including young girls.
The post festival events marks the male members engaging in agricultural practices of burning their jhum fields and in the process any wild animals and birds killed or captured are gifted to female dormitories. Female members collect meat from their homes and cook in dormitories. Discarded pieces of meat and bones (hailodum nsa) are collected by younger boys.
Boys and girls together have recreation and merry making with would be brides and grooms by singing soulful ballets and conundrum. The bride-to-be along with friends from her dormitory selects a married man to lead during “nta” (traditional dances) and gives him mouthful of salt and wine.

A day for facilitating and solemnizing traditional marriage ceremonies akin to Christian holy marriages and involves marriage feast for the entire village folks.

The office of the Jalukie Pumling Nko Nagaland, while pronouncing observance of “Mlei-ngyi” festival in its land during this festive season also coveys Mlei-ngyi greetings to its people and wishes everyone bountiful blessings from the almighty God for a prosperous year 2024.